I’m extremely competitive. Always have been and most likely always will be. So two weeks ago when I underperformed at the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon, I was a little torn up inside. For the first few days after my race, I was mainly focused on recovering since the race had shredded my legs and left me extremely dehydrated. After I’d started to feel better though, the guilt and frustration started to move towards the forefront of my mind.
I’d trained SO hard. I’d done every workout to perfection. Why didn’t I see the results I had strived for??
My biggest struggle as an athlete is coming back after a setback. As a swimmer, I remember being at a big invitational meet totally hyped up to race the 100 butterfly in attempts of breaking the school record. I’d practiced hard in the weeks leading up to the meet and had tapered off just as my coaches had instructed. I felt great getting up on the blocks, but crashed and burned in the final lap of the race and ended up adding time rather than breaking the record I’d been pining for. Upset and heartbroken, I spent the remainder of the meet in the warmdown pool sprinting 100’s of butterfly until my arms gave out. I guess this is my version of a tantrum.
This past Thursday was just another example of that.
Coach had 4 miles with 2 of the miles at 8:00 pace on the calendar for me. After deciding to set marathon training aside for now to focus on general training and another half marathon, she had adjusted my schedule to make sure I had ample time to recover before jumping into things again. With a marathon off of the calendar, there was no need to push my mileage at this point anyways. But in true Mackenzie fashion, I overdid it. Although my legs had just started to feel okay again, I pushed it.
I ran my warm up at 8:00 pace. Strike 1. Then I proceeded to run the next 4 miles at 7:50 pace. Strike 2. And to top it all off, my “cool-down” was back at 8:00 pace again. Strike 3. I finished the workout exhausted and left the gym with sore legs once again. I logged the run accurately and my coach immediately shot me an email asking me why I’d chosen to run the extra mileage and telling me to be careful.
Well, I ran it because I was upset with myself. I ran it because I knew I was better than the performance I’d given the week before. I ran it to prove I could. But in hindsight, the little fit I’d thrown could’ve landed me on the sidelines with an injury, which wouldn’t have been worth it whatsoever. So I decided to sit down, thank God I hadn’t gotten injured, and commit myself to trusting the training process.
Running (or any other kind of sport for that matter) isn’t always easy. There are definitely runs where my legs feel like jello and I just don’t want to get out there and put in the work. There are times where I question why I’m putting so much time into this when no one is forcing me to. And clearly, there have been, and will continue to be, races that I taper and train for that just don’t turn out how I would like them to.
But the point of the matter is this entire process is what makes us great. The tough moments where we have to pull ourselves back up and get back to training even harder and smarter are where we gain our strength. The struggles that we have and the races that we lose just make our victories even sweeter. Sometimes it’s tough to accept this, but in reality this is why we love what we do.
So I urge you to trust the training process. Sometimes we don’t perform as we would like and sometimes we question if we’re putting in the right amount of work to reach the goals we have set out in front of us. But there is a method to the madness of training and if you just decide to go all in without questioning it, you’ll eventually reap all of the rewards.
Now it’s time I get back on the treadmill and get to work 🙂